Title: Journalists and the internet : a longitudinal survey on how journalists adapt to new internet technology and applications
Authors : Keel, Guido
Conference details: IAMCR Conference 2010: Communication and Citizenship, International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), University of Minho, Braga, 18–22 July 2010
Issue Date: 2010
License (according to publishing contract) : Licence according to publishing contract
Type of review: Not specified
Language : English
Subjects : FU
Subject (DDC) : 070: News media, journalism and publishing
Abstract: Theoretical background At the core of journalism lies the handling of information in mass communication, which is also what the Internet is all about. Therefore, it could be assumed that journalists would be at the forefront of new uses of the internet. Much literature in journalism science has argued that the internet is fundamentally changing journalism (Pavlik 2000). At the same time, the concept of the "cultural lag" needs to be taken into consideration: New technology or material culture evolves faster than non-material culture. Furthermore, according to structuration theory, innovations, for example new forms of resources on the structural level, do not determine the structures of significance and legitimization, nor do they dominate the action (Giddens 1984). Rather, structure and action evolve in a recursive process and thus change the framework of significance and legitimization. Combining these two theoretical approaches, it can be expected that new Internet technology, despite its efficiency in processing information, does not immediately change journalistic practice. Empirical Research In order to find out how the internet is affecting journalistic action and structures of signification and legitimization, a longitudinal study with three surveys (2002: N=754, 2005: N=617 and 2009: N=596) were carried out in Switzerland (Bernet/Keel 2009). In these surveys, journalists were asked how they use the internet in their daily work, and what they think about the internet as a tool for their work. Findings The findings of these surveys can be summarized as follows: The internet has become the most important tool for the work of Swiss journalists. They see the internet and related online applications as helpful, making their work easier and more efficient. In the eyes of the journalists, the benefits outweigh the risks. Therefore, there is a high rate of acceptance of online applications, despite occasional worries about the dangers of relying too much on virtual contacts and google search results. However, journalists were slow in making use of new applications. In 2005, when blogs had become commonplace among internet users, less than one out of six journalists found them relevant for their work, and one out of two journalists admitted that they didn't know what RSS-feeds were. In 2009, this number had risen to 40 percent, and other Web 2.0 applications had also become more common. However, the new trend of microblogging via Twitter had left the journalists untouched: Only 6 percent of all journalists said they had used Twitter for their work. Conclusion Journalists do use and appreciate the internet. However, still in 2009, when they say internet, they are talking about traditional aspects of the web, mostly e-mail and search engines. This confirms the concept of the "cultural lag". While journalists are not among the early adaptors of new technology, they will eventually make use of these new tools, when, and only when, structures of significance and legitimization allow for such a use. This needs to be taken into consideration when talking about how online technology is changing journalism.
Departement: Angewandte Linguistik
Organisational Unit: Institute of Applied Media Studies (IAM)
Publication type: Conference Other
URI: https://digitalcollection.zhaw.ch/handle/11475/2938
Appears in Collections:Publikationen Angewandte Linguistik

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